Over the next couple of months we’ll be introducing you to a bunch of wonderful Women Who Shoot.
Liz a 34-year-old farmer, journalist and mum in the south east of South Australia. Liz dabbled in shooting as a youngster but got into sporting clays and skeet shooting after trying out her husband’s shotgun at 27. She has competed on a state and national level since she began shooting competitively; she was the first woman in South Australia to reach AA-grade in skeet; and also made the Australian Ladies Postal team which recognises the top five women in Australia for skeet shooting. Liz thinks shooting is a wonderful sport for anyone at any age: she loves the mental challenge of the sport and would love to see more women get involved. “If you can overcome any perceived fears that you might have, it’s so worth it. And the people that you meet are just incredibly fun and supportive; there’s a real community and family feel around it.”
Debbie is a 50-year-old horse-riding enthusiast who transitioned her love of riding to shooting three years ago. Coming from a rural background, Debbie was always comfortable with firearms but never shot and it wasn’t until she was thoroughly encouraged to give the sport a go that she did, and loved it. Debbie’s first rifle was named Ella after one of the saddles she sold to pay for the firearm. Debbie shoots long-range target in Open F class and has recently tried Fly Shoot. The SSAA member loves that the sport is inclusive for people of all walks of life. “I have met so many amazing people in this sport and love that woman, men and youth can all compete together. So in short, I tried it, got hooked and will stay in this sport until I am physically able.”
Nadine is a 29-year-old dump truck driver in the mines who enjoys motorbike riding, cooking, gardening, drawing and of course, shooting. Nadine gets her passion for shooting from her father—a German-trained gunsmith who has always been involved in shooting and firearms. She shoots clay targets at her local club in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and also goes hunting with her partner for pest eradication. Nadine says she loves that shooting is a different and unusual sport as well as an opportunity to better herself and to learn from others who have been shooting for a long time. “I have always been supported by everyone I know. The people at my clubs and my friends and family have always been super supportive of my passion for shooting.”
This 74-year-old has been shooting since she was 13 years old and has been a SSAA member since 1977. Mary’s first experience shooting was with a .22 rifle and has since participated in rabbit hunting and shooting at the Springvale and Eagle Park Ranges. Now, Mary visits family in Wodonga in Victoria and shoots at the range in addition to some target practice on the family property. As well as shooting, Mary has always loved fishing for marlin and yellowfin tuna off the coastal town of Bermagui in New South Wales and also gets great pleasure out of shooting with her 13-year-old granddaughter Bridie, who has her junior license. Mary said the shooting community has certainly developed during her time and now is very welcoming. “Things have improved greatly since I started… SSAA has done a great job in recent years encouraging women to participate in the sport.” When asked what she likes most about shooting, Mary said she loves to challenge herself. “Last year I shot a three-round group of 1/4 inch at 100m on two occasions. Trying to do it for a third time is my present challenge. It’s [also] a very family friendly activity with my husband, son and grandchildren.”
The 66-year-old started shooting in 1974 when her husband (then boyfriend) took her out to the Silverdale Range in New South Wales and Jan earnt her “silver” benchrest proficiency medal. The SSAA member joined the association that day and has never looked back. The Target Rifle competitor has represented Australia six times—four with SSAA. Most recently Jan was the only female member of the SSAA Australian team at the World Rimfire Benchrest Championships 2018 and the Pacific Regional Championships 2018 in New Zealand. Jan has won eight International Rimfire Benchrest medals and set five Australian SSAA Rimfire Benchrest Records; won 26 SSAA National Rimfire Benchrest medals, 39 SSAA Rimfire Benchrest State medals along with many more. The strong competitor shoots regularly with her husband and says there is work to do to make shooting an encouraging environment for women. When asked what she likes about the sport, Jan said she loves the intense focus and the buzz when everything comes together. “I’ve met good people and made life-long friendships; matches are a great chance to catch up. I competed from my teens through to still being able to qualify for the Australian team in my sixties – not many sports can offer a lifetime of opportunities!”
Louise grew up in Rutherglen, Victoria, with an older brother who introduced her to hunting. But Louise really began shooting when her son Matt started teaching her the basics and explained the mental skill required for the sport. The 65-year-old has competed in many disciplines including DTL, Skeet and Olympic ISSF Trap. While she’s been told to stick to one discipline and hone that skill, she loves to try new things. Louise was a nurse and a nanny for many years but has always had a spirit for adventure and the outdoors. She lives for motorcycle riding, cycling, camping, travel and of course shooting; as well as arts and crafts like watercolour painting and mosaics. Louise loves that shooting is a family sport and that she’s been able to meet people from all walks of life. “I also like the travel aspect… and the added bonus of shooting a comp as we have in Norfolk Island, Tasmania, Alice Springs, Adelaide, Sydney and many others.” Louise thinks shooting is one of the few sports that encourages women young or old to get involved. “As a woman shooter I have always felt encouraged by others that I’m giving it a go [and] have always been made to feel welcome at the many country shoots I’ve attended.”